Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:33 UK

French advisers seized in Somalia

Somali insurgents patrol north Mogadishu on 13 July 2009
Islamist guerrillas roam freely in many parts of lawless Mogadishu

Two French security advisers helping the Somali government have been kidnapped in the capital Mogadishu, French officials have said.

Gunmen who were wearing police uniforms entered the hotel where the two were staying and took them away, eyewitnesses said.

The abductions took place in a government-held part of Mogadishu.

Islamist rebels are battling troops from the UN-backed interim government for control of the city.

Rebels repelled

The French foreign ministry said the two advisers were in Mogadishu on an official mission to provide help to the government.

They were seized at the Sahafi Hotel, which has often accommodated foreign journalists and Somali government ministers.

Hotel workers told BBC Somali that the two had checked in as journalists. A Somali official later told Reuters news agency they had done so for their own protection.

The kidnappings come two days after government troops forced Islamist militants from positions around the presidential palace.

Some of the 4,300 African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu helped push back the insurgents.

The radical rebel group al-Shabab and its allies have been trying to topple the fragile interim government, led by moderate Islamist President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

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